In this post I want to share some of my best GoPro photography tips.
These tips and techniques will make it easier for you to capture better quality and engaging photos.
Now you’ll be even more excited to share your adventures with friends and family back home!
GoPro photography can be liberating given how portable and durable the camera is.
Unfortunately, you can’t just point it in the direction you want, snap a quick photo, and move on.
Let’s take a look at some of the best tips you can use to get amazing photos.
The Best GoPro Photography Tips: How To Take Amazing GoPro Photos
What’s great about the GoPro is its size and durability.
You can bring it wherever you’re going and it’s always ready to start taking photo.
It’s the perfect camera when you need something small and discreet.
For travel and local adventure there’s hardly anything better than the GoPro. It’s what I use almost exclusively for taking pictures.
With a few years of GoPro photography experience I thought I would share how to take awesome GoPro photos so you can get some amazing shots on your own!
Let’s jump into the tips…
Tip #1: Consider the Lighting
One of the most common issues I see with “bad” GoPro photos is that the image is too dark or overexposed.
Both of these are caused by a misunderstanding of the lighting in the photography setting.
Photos that are under or over exposed are difficult to edit and the GoPro sensor really likes to mess with the exposure.
Ever noticed that your pictures end up looking washed out or gray?
That’s from the lighting.
Before taking any photo with your GoPro look for the location of the sun.
The best case scenario is shooting with the sun behind or beside you.
The idea is to have the object of your photo illuminated with natural light from the sun.
Taking photos with the sun in frame is a bad idea and will result in overexposed and washed-out photos.
Tip #2: Use the Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is a basic photography guideline that’s designed to make it easier to capture balanced photos.
Check out this helpful guide on the rule-of-thirds for a better look at this guideline.
It’s used as a way to place focus on a subject that isn’t centered in the image – something that is all-too-common in GoPro photography.
Using the rule of thirds the main focal point is off to the left or right of center.
This draws the viewer’s eyes away from the center of the photo making it more interesting, unique, and engaging.
How do you do this with your GoPro?
Place a mental grid on the screen or over the setting in front of you when framing your shots.
It might seem weird at first but it becomes second nature as you start doing it regularly.
Tip #3: Frame Your Shots
Avoid taking random photos without any frame or point of reference.
It’s unlikely that you’ll take a great photo by chance.
The best photos are composed and perfectly framed.
At first, it takes mental effort and some time to frame the setting in front of you for better photos.
Eventually you’ll start looking at things from the point of view of a photographer and these better-looking shots become natural.
Start with getting the angle right.
Hold the GoPro level in front of you and use a point of reference on the horizon to get a straight photo.
You should also try to get a clear view of your photography subject.
Trees, telephone wires, street signs, and other objects can obstruct your photo and ruin an otherwise amazing shot.
Tip #4: Use Linear Mode
The Hero 5 and newer models have a photo setting called Linear Mode.
This setting captures a straight horizon, as opposed to the wide angle point of view, and results in a more natural perspective.
Check out the official GoPro website here for more info.
Linear mode is great for photography, especially if you’re not comfortable using the wide-angle setting yet.
Personally, I prefer using linear mode and only grabbing wide-angle shots in certain situations.
Keep in mind that RAW format is not available when you’re using Linear mode.
This setting can change your outlook on using a GoPro as a dedicated camera so I recommend trying it out.
Tip #5: Take More Than One Shot
One of the best GoPro photography tips I can give is to never just take a single shot. If you check out the settings on your camera you will see that you have the option for both time lapse or burst shots.
Using the time-lapse mode is great for taking selfies. Set it to 1 second intervals and hold it out front of you for a few seconds. This is going to give you a variety of different images to choose from. Using the time-lapse mode you also don’t have to worry about blurry images as much.
Of course you’re going to want to use a selfie-stick if you want to take some great photos of yourself. Consider picking one up before your trip so that you always have it with you.
By taking more than one shot you increase your chances of getting a better photo. This way you don’t have to worry about images that are out of frame. Blurry images become less of a problem as well.
The newer GoPro models come with built-in image stabilization for videos. However, you can still end up with a blurry photo if you’re not careful.
Consider using the burst mode if you’re going to be moving around a lot. This is going to increase your chances of getting a still photo that’s completely in focus. There are different Burst Mode features so I recommend trying out a few to see which setting is the best for you.
Tip #6: Bring Extra Batteries
You can expect a few hours of battery life with regular photography using the GoPro.
The battery life is better when you’re taking photos compared to capturing video, although it’s still not comparable to a DSLR or smartphone.
With a GoPro it’s a good idea to carry extra batteries when you’re out taking pictures.
They’re small, reasonably priced, and easy to quickly switch.
You can find some great GoPro batteries on Amazon.
Take a look at my guide on how to make your GoPro battery last longer.
Bonus tip: Keep the battery in your pocket when you’re not using it – warm batteries maintain their charge better than cold ones.
Tip #7: Get Up Close
The wide angle of the GoPro means that the further away you are from the subject the smaller the subject will look. Whether you are trying to photograph a building or your friends it’s a good idea to get up close.
Alternatively, if you’re using a newer model I recommend using the linear mode for both photos and videos. This greatly reduces the awkward fisheye effect. With this mode your images are going to look better if you’re photographing in most outdoor scenarios where a wide-angle isn’t necessary.
You should experiment before you leave on your trip to see how close you really need to get. You will actually be surprised with how close you can stand to what you are photographing and still be able to capture an incredible shot.
Even when you are taking selfies you’ll notice right away that the camera held out at arms length is still able to capture quite a bit of your surroundings.
The same goes with regular photos that you take. It’s always a good idea to get close to your subject and even closer than what would seem reasonable with a normal point-and-shoot or DSLR camera.
Tip #8: Hold The GoPro Steady
One of the most common issues that people have with their GoPro is that the photographs and footage comes out blurry and shaky.
Blurry footage used to happen a lot more with the older models. The newer models come with built-in image stabilization. This results in a steady shot where you don’t have to use a stabilizer or any editing tricks.
When you’re taking photos using the GoPro it’s a good idea to keep your hand steady. Avoid any sudden movements and never take a photo while you’re walking. I would still recommend using a handheld stabilizer for photographs and videos.
Like I mentioned above, you’re going to want to take more than just one or two photos. This is especially important in low light or any unsteady conditions.
Keep it steady and you will get some high quality, detailed images as a result.
If you’re noticing that your video is really wobbly then I suggest taking a look at some handheld stabilizers for a smoother and steadier shot.
Tip #9: Try Out Different Angles
Unlike a point-and-shoot or DSLR you can get the GoPro into some really neat and interesting angles to capture an incredible shot.
If you are using mounts this is even easier since you can reach or lower the camera into areas where you couldn’t get anything else but a GoPro.
Whether you are mounting it to the top of your car, the window of the plane or anywhere else you can think of it’s much easier to take multiple shots from different places and angles with your GoPro than any other camera. By taking a wide variety of photos shot from different areas you are able to tell a better story and capture more of your adventure.
It’s also a lot more interactive and fun to use different mounts to capture photographs from different angles and adds a new dimension to your traveling experience.
Tip #10: Practice Makes Perfect
The lack of a viewfinder on the older GoPro models means it’s harder to see what you’re capturing. You can use the smartphone app but this can get annoying if you’re taking a lot of photos.
The best way to avoid this problem is to get a lot of practice using the camera. This way you don’t constantly have to check back and review your shot to see if you got everything in frame. Taking multiple photos also helps because it will give you a few options to choose from later on when you’re editing.
The newer models come with viewfinders and this makes it easier than ever to make sure everything is in frame. With the viewfinder you can capture some incredible shots and know exactly what’s going to end up in the image when you are looking at the photos later on.
Even if you’re not traveling just try taking the GoPro out around your neighborhood and test out different angles and vantage points to see how the images turn out. That way once you leave on your trip you will be able to take incredible shots.
It’s also really fun to get some time lapses or fiddle around with the different features on the camera. Try to have some fun with it and always bring it wherever you go to get extra practice.
Tip #11: Use A Tether
Try to avoid holding the GoPro in just your hands without any sort of mount or attachment.
The camera is so small, light and pretty expensive. Dropping it or forgetting it somewhere can really put a damper on your trip.
I recommend taking a look at my article on the best GoPro alternatives if you’re looking for something that’s a little more reasonably priced.
A wrist strap is a must for when you’re walking around a new city and its a good idea to use a tether to attach the camera to your mounts so that if it falls off you don’t have to worry about losing it forever.
I always travel with my GoPro attached to a travel tripod because it helps me get a steadier photo. Leaving the tripod attached also makes the camera easier for me to carry. I’m less likely to leave it behind as well.
If you are doing some adventure sports like snorkeling, swimming or anything that doesn’t involve walking around the city it’s definitely a good idea to keep it attached to yourself so you never have to worry about losing it.
Tip #12: Use Mounts
Another one of the best GoPro photography tips – use a mount with your camera.
Using different mounts can give you a new perspective and fresh angles.
Mounts are perfect for time-lapses, long exposure shots, and getting those awesome photos of yourself!
There are hundreds of different GoPro mounts available giving you the opportunity to mount the little action camera on seemingly anything.
What I love doing is using the time lapse setting and mounting the camera in various places when I’m out capturing photos.
This results in photos with a unique point-of-view that tell a more interesting and engaging story.
Some of my favorite amounts include the 3-Way Arm, the Suction Cup mount, and a basic tripod.
Tip #13: Watch Out For Fog
Fog or condensation can build up inside the camera case or on the camera lens.
Photos that you capture when this happens aren’t going to come out the way you hoped.
It’s better to manage the camera during any periods of high humidity or temperature extremes to avoid any issues.
With the older models, use the open and ventilated back attachment for the case.
You can use these nifty fog inserts or a rice grain to prevent condensation from forming with the closed case.
The newer models don’t suffer from this problem and it’s not something you’ll need to worry about.
Tip #14: Edit Your Photos
Editing your photos is essential.
Unedited the photos typically look washed-out and unsaturated with a lot of room for improvement.
Thankfully, some basic editing skills go a long way when it comes to GoPro photography.
Take a look at this post on the best GoPro editing programs if you’re not sure what to use.
Personally, I use Lightroom for the best results with Photoshop being a great alternative.
Those of you with some previous editing experience should consider capturing photos in RAW.
This setting gives you more control over the colors and lighting in your photos – the perfect choice for those of you with photography experience.
Tip #15: Use Burst Mode for High-Paced Shots
Ever tried to capture your kids or pets doing something cool but you missed it because the camera was too slow?
With the Burst Mode on the GoPro you don’t have to worry about this happening.
This is a great feature to use for capturing high-paced moments where every second counts.
Take those cool Autumn falling leaves or girl waving her hair in the water shots.
To get one of those shots taking photos manually would take hundreds of tries.
Using the Burst Mode you can do it all in a few seconds or less and capture everything that happened.
This is one of those features that’s fun to use and can result in some amazing photos once you get the hang of it.
Tip #16: Shoot in RAW Format
Shooting RAW photos captures more detail compared to the standard GoPro image format (JPEG).
There is more data in the image giving you more to work with when it comes time to editing.
Those of you not editing your photos don’t need to use the RAW setting.
This is something you need to try it on your own to see which type of photo you like best.
Personally, I prefer shooting in RAW.
The photos look more natural, the details are more accurate, and RAW image files are easier to edit on Lightroom.
Keep in mind that RAW photos results in much larger file sizes – something to consider with your GoPro file management.